Are defense companies ethical

Working for the Defense Industry: Does Morality Have its Price?

For some they make an indispensable contribution to national defense, for others they are complicit in the deaths of countless people: We are talking about the Germans Armaments company. With a volume of 2.8 billion euros in 2016, Germany is one of the four largest arms exporters the world, only surpassed by the USA, Russia and France. The armaments industry generates almost 8 billion euros in sales in this country each year. And boom years are ahead of the industry - thanks to military conflicts around the world.

Time and again, exports of war weapons to foreign countries are approved by the federal government, but they are also repeatedly banned. The armaments business is up highly controversial, because weapons quickly fall into the wrong hands and cause immense damage in the process. Working for an armaments company is a definite one moral attitude ahead. We are going to get to the bottom of which companies are leading in the German armaments industry, what professions there are, what you can earn at the arms manufacturers and what decisions have to be made around a career in the industrial sector.

Who are the German arms companies?

Armaments companies can be called those companies that to a significant extent Weapons, weapon systems, ammunition or manufacture supporting equipment for military use. These include:

  • Handguns (pistols, rifles)
  • Guns
  • armored vehicles
  • Military aircraft
  • Warships
  • Reconnaissance systems
  • Communication systems
  • Cartridges, grenades, missiles, bombs

Also Suppliers For weapon manufacturers, this includes, for example, manufacturers of clothing for soldiers, optical aiming aids for rifles or components for military vehicles. Even the identification of an arms company as such is complicated by the fact that quite a few of these companies also products manufacture that civil such as hunting weapons or non-military aircraft. In addition, “dual use” refers to goods that can serve both military and civilian purposes. This conceptual fuzziness makes the issue of export permits in particular confusing.

It is therefore difficult to say exactly how many companies the German defense industry includes. Many companies are aware of the explosive nature of the topic and do not give it a big bang when they manufacture products for military purposes. Rather, aspects such as “security” or “mobility” are carried outwards. It is well known that large companies such as Siemens, MAN or Airbus are more or less directly involved in the manufacture of weapons and weapon systems in different ways.

The most important companies that produce armaments in Germany include:

  • Airbus Defense and Space - Military aircraft, reconnaissance systems (sales of 12.5 billion euros in armaments, approx. 45,000 employees)
  • Rheinmetall Defense - Tanks, ammunition, air defense systems (3.3 billion euros in sales of armaments, approx. 11,200 employees)
  • ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems - Submarines and warships (1.8 billion euros in armaments sales, approx. 6,000 employees)
  • Krauss-Maffei Wegmann - Wheeled and tracked vehicles (EUR 950 million in armaments sales, approx. 2,800 employees)
  • MTU Aero Engines - Engines for combat aircraft (500 million sales of armaments, approx. 8,400 employees)
  • Diehl Defense - Ammunition, rockets, armored chains (500 million euros in sales of armaments, approx. 2,300 employees)
  • Heckler - Pistols, assault rifles and precision rifles (sales of 202 million euros in armaments, approx. 690 employees)

The industry is particularly well represented in Baden-Württemberg. Between 20,000 and 25,000 people work here in the armaments industry, which corresponds to around a quarter of all those employed in this industrial sector across Germany.

Jobs in the defense industry

As diverse and at the same time clandestine the industry is, the professions that can be found at armaments companies are just as diverse. Since gun making is a high tech affair, there is above all Positions with a technical focus. Numerous employees are also employed in the commercial area. Typical professions in defense companies are:

Obviously, the arms manufacturers are struggling to fill their positions. There are plenty of job advertisements on the websites of the leading defense companies. Accordingly, one tries to lure job seekers with high salaries.

That is what the German armories pay for

Whether it is more because the positions are difficult to fill due to the applicants' moral concerns, or because the arms industry is doing extremely well thanks to full order books: The industry pays well. This is how project managers at Rheinmetall with annual salaries of around 80,000 euros calculate, which is definitely at the upper end of the usual salary range. At Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is paid only slightly less in the same position.

In the commercial area, the money is also easy, like the well above-average controller salaries of around 70,000 euros at MTU Aero Engines betray. And also in apprenticeships - let us take the example of a construction mechanic ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems with annual salaries of around 55,000 euros called - rather unusually high salaries are paid.

The average income of employees in German arms manufacturers is around 68,000 euros, and employees in management positions often earn six figures a year. In short: the companies usually pay above average.

Fundamental career decisions

Due to the bad image of their companies, the top executives in the armaments industry try to score points with further advantages for employees. This is how they apply Structures within the mostly medium-sized companies as comparatively democratically and it gets weight on harmonious exchange with each other placed. Loyalty has traditionally enjoyed a high priority in the armaments sector, and some of the companies are more progressive than one might expect when it comes to diversity.

Outweigh all of these benefits of being an employee of an arms company being involved in the manufacture of products that are used to injure or kill people? That remains an open question to which job seekers have to find an answer for themselves. In addition, the Decision, to work for a company in the arms industry final can be. Because anyone who lists a weapons manufacturer as a (former) employer on their résumé will have great difficulties finding a job at many other companies and organizations. So it is a decision that needs to be considered very carefully for several reasons.

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Airbus Defense and Space
Blue Engineering - engineers with social and ecological responsibility
Federal Association of the German Security and Defense Industry e.V.
Federal Agency for Civic Education
Diehl Defense
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann
MTU Aero Engines
Rheinmetall Defense
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems